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Battle of Guadalcanal

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Anthony Do

on 3 March 2015

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Transcript of Battle of Guadalcanal

Battle of

The Solomon Island Campaign
Guadalcanal Campaign
(Operation Watchtower)
Date: 7 August 1942 – 9 February 1943
6 months and 2 days

South Pacific
Solomon Island Chain
Guadalcanal Island

Island Terrain:
Ninety miles long on a Northwest-Southeast axis
Twenty-five miles wide
Mountains and Dormant Volcanoes
Steep Ravines
Swamp and Marshes
Coastline with no Natural Harbors
South Shores protected by miles of Coral Reefs
Battle Analysis:

By: Anthony Do
Leaders and Commanders:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley -Commander of the South Pacific
Admiral William F. Halsey Jr.
Admiral Richmond K. Turner
General Alexander A. Vandegrift - Commander of 1st Marine Division
General Alexander M. Patch - Commander of Army Division

1st Marine Division
2nd Marine Division
25th Infantry
Americal (23rd Infantry) Division

60,000 Ground Forces

Leaders and Commanders:
Emperor Hirohito
Marshal Admiral Yamamoto - Commander of Combined Fleet
Admiral Nishizo Tsukahara
Admiral Jinichi Kusaka
General Hitoshi Imamura
General Harukichi Hyakutake

2nd Infantry Division
38th Infantry Division
35th Brigade

36,200 Ground Forces
United States
The Solomon Islands represented the farthest reach of the Japanese Empire in the Pacific Theater.

Guadalcanal position gave it strategics importance because it lay closest to Australia and to the South Pacific ferry route

Naval action in the spring and summer of 1942 gave American forces an opening into the South Pacific.
Naval Strength:

Why Guadalcanal?
Phase 2:
Ground Combat
Marine Build Defensive Positions around Henderson Field:
Total encapsulation of airfield
Machine guns placed at critical points
Artillery Support

U.S Marine’s defense of Henderson Airfield:
Assault at Henderson Airfield began on September 12.
The only direction that an assault could take place was to the south.
The Japanese began to bomb and launch naval artillery on the southern Marine’s positions.
Due to the quality of the defensive positions and the armament of the troops, the American troops were able to throw off the assault.

PltSgt. John Basilon:
Received Congressional Medal of Honor
Led machine gun crews in the extraordinary defense against Japanese assault.
Personally repaired and manned a broken gun after some of his failed.
Battled through Japanese to get needed rounds to his mortar teams at a great risk to his personal well being
His actions are attributed to the total destruction of the Japanese regiment that was assaulting his position.

Phase 1:
Only the north central coast presented suitable invasion beaches.

Prior to the American landing in early August, the Japanese had not tried to fortify all terrain features, but concentrated on the north plain area and prominent peaks.
The landing at the “Red Beach” was unopposed. This made the landing simple, yet very cluttered.
Mount Austen stood as the most important objective to anyone trying to hold or take the north coast.

The "cake walk" landing continues on the march to Henderson Airfield, with little to no Japanese resistance.

Phase 3:
Second Battle of Mount Austen:
December 15 to January 23rd
Pockets of Japanese resistance in the mountains above Henderson Field caused uneasiness amongst American leadership
Japanese Troops were starving and had been surrounded for several weeks.
Army troops, with the help of Marine Armor, broke through the Japanese defensive positions

Occupational Logistical Problems:
No docks for landing meant that ships had to be unloaded offshore.
Soldiers and locals had no desire to assist with the unloading especially with a lack of trucks.
Roads where very muddy and tough to traverse.
Mop up missions often outran supply lines.

Phase 1:
In Japan, there were divided thoughts as to the importance of the island.
Many senior army figures believed that Japan should consolidate what it had and that the army itself was already over-stretched policing its vast empire. The hierarchy in the Japanese Navy disagreed.

By the end of May 1942, the Japanese had landed men at Guadalcanal. 

By the end of June, there were an estimated 3,000 Japanese soldiers on the island. An up-and-running airfield on Guadalcanal would have been a major threat to the Americans in the region

In all, 20,000 Japanese troops were moved to Guadalcanal.

Phase 2:
Ground Combat
The Japanese hierarchy in Tokyo refused to admit defeat and ordered yet more men to Guadalcanal.

In mid-November 1942, planes from Henderson attacked a convoy of ships bringing Japanese reinforcements to Guadalcanal.
Of eleven transport ships, six were sunk, one was severely damaged and four had to be beached.
Rations were slow to reach the soldiers. As many as
50 soldiers died of starvation daily
2,000 men ever reached Guadalcanal
- but few had any equipment as this had been lost at sea.

December 1942
, the emperor ordered a withdrawal from Guadalcanal. Withdrawal took place from
January to February 1943
and the Americans learned that even in defeat that the Japanese were a force to be reckoned with.
11,000 Japanese soldiers were taken off the island in the so-called 'Tokyo Night Express'

Phase 3:
Strategic Objective:
Prevent the enemy from building and obtaining a military staging area in the South Pacific
Prevent the Japanese military from further advances in to the Pacific
Invade New Guinea and Australia, then ultimately invade Hawaii/US Coastline
Operational Objective:
The Guadalcanal is key objective for further military actions in the area, due to it's airbase
Take the Solomon Islands as a Stepping-Stone towards Japan
Consolidate captured territories and reinforce the Solomon Islands
Tactical Objective:
Henderson Air Field

Capture and Hold Henderson Airfield , while eliminating enemy presence from the island
Sever Supply and Communication Line between U.S ground forces on the island and reinforcements
Anti-Tank Guns
M3A1 37mm Anti-Tank gun

Personal Weapons:
M-3 Light Tank
Type-97 Medium Tank
105 mm M2A1 (M101A1) howitzer
75mm Pack Howitzer M1
Type 89 Heavy Grenade Discharger
Type 91 10 cm howitzer
Type 99 rifle Arisaka
M1 Garand
Type 99 light machine gun
M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle
M1917 Browning machine gun
Type 100 sub-machine gun
M1928A1 sub-machine gun
• Initially, no shallow water supply ships
• Had to unload from large cargo ships and pile onto small landing craft without ramps
• Unloaded by combat marines on the shores
• Supplies piled up on the beaches with little distribution
• Only ½ of food, and minimal artillery, radios, radars, or heavy equipment/machinery made it on shore before cargo ships evacuated
• Marines had to live off the land with locals
• US chain of island supply stations was not prepared for campaign
• Inefficient economy of force with logistics
• No planning for long-range logistics in Pacific
• Americans won Guadalcanal because of logistics
• Still fared better than Japanese

• Did not have enough food for its troops
• Many soldiers died of starvation or illness
• Did not have enough oil to sustain a naval attack on Henderson Field
• Lack of oil also prevented supply ships from reaching Guadalcanal
The US struggled because they did not plan for such an extended campaign so far away. The Japanese struggled because it did not have the fuel for its navy to destroy the airfield or to resupply their troops. Overall, the US won because it had more resources and was able to eventually overcome the planning deficiencies.
Ichiki's views on the Marines (one shared by many Japanese officer) that he believed that his men were more than a match for the Marines.
On August 21st, Ichiki ordered a simple bayonet attack on the American positions.
Ichiki committed ritual suicide - such was the defeat he and his men had experienced. 
Ground fighting reached its climax between October 14th. and October 26th.
On the night of October 14th, two battleships bombarded Henderson Field which put the air base out of action temporarily. 
At the same time reinforcements landed on the island. 
Despite reinforcements, and ferocious Japanese attacks, the Marines managed to keep control of the airfield.

October 23rd, 5,600 Japanese soldiers attacked US positions ahead of the main assault on the east of the defensive zone. Pin point artillery fire ensured the failure of this attack.

On October 24th, the Japanese launched a major attack from the south with 7,000 men. At one stage a small number of Japanese troops got inside the defensive perimeter but fierce fighting drove them back. When Kawaguchi ordered a withdrawal, he had lost 3,500 men - 50% of the force that had attacked.
1 carrier
2 battleships
2 heavy cruisers
3 light cruisers
12 destroyers
2 battleships
6 heavy cruisers
4 light cruisers
16 destroyers
"Before we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.!
Admiral Halsey - December 1941
"Most of the men are stricken with dysentery...Starvation is taking many lives and it is weakening our already extended lines. We are doomed."
Major-General Kensaku Oda - January 1943
1st Marine Division
2nd Marine Division
25th Infantry
Americal (23rd Infantry) Division

60,000 Ground Forces

1 carrier
2 battleships
2 heavy cruisers
3 light cruisers
12 destroyers
2nd Infantry Division
38th Infantry Division
35th Brigade

36,200 Ground Forces

2 battleships
6 heavy cruisers
4 light cruisers
16 destroyers
Naval Battles:
Battle of Savo Island, August 9, 1942
Battle of Cape Esperance, October 11, 1942
First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942
Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 14, 1942
Battle of Tassafaronga, November 30, 1942

Primary US Naval goal was to stop Japanese reinforcement of the island to prevent recapture.

Japanese naval doctrine was to fight a decisive battle to cripple the enemy forces in further conflicts, wound up being correct, but impacting them instead of their enemy at Guadalcanal

Overall Japanese losses(sunk): 8 ships
Overall US Naval Losses(Sunk): 14 ships

"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"
Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe - January 1943
"The fruits of victory are tumbling into our mouths too quickly."
Emperor Hirohito - April 1942

Naval Fire Power:
Naval Gunfire Support:
First US use in January 1943
Used NGF in support of XIV Corps offensive on Guadalcanal.
Second January Offensive
4 Destroyers used specifically for NGF Support of ground forces

Kirishima (1915)
(8) 14 in guns
Visual/Floodlights (IJN)
USS South Dakota (1939)
(9) 16 in guns
Radar Range Finding (US)

“Guadalcanal was a devastating defeat for the Japanese, but it is remembered almost not at all in Japan. It was such an awful, dispiriting defeat for the Japanese — just mud and blood and filth and massacre. You can almost understand why they wouldn’t want to even think about it.” -M.G. Sheftall

Casualties and Losses:
Ground Forces:
7,100 dead
4 captured

Naval Forces:
29 ships lost

615 aircraft lost

Ground Forces:
31,000 dead
1,000 captured

Naval Forces:
38 ships lost

683–880 aircraft lost
"Casualties many; Percentage of dead not known; Combat efficiency; we are winning."
-Colonel David M. Shoup
The Guadalcanal Campaign led to a strategic Allied Victory. U.S forces were able to successfully capture the island and used it as an airbase and sea trade route for other Allied forces. This was also the beginning of the U.S Island Hopping Campaign, as the island Served as a strategic position for other island invasion.
Carlson’s 2nd Marine Raiders
Inspired by the British Commandos
Opposed by most USMC leadership
Set up due to pressure by the Roosevelt
LTC Evans Carlson was chosen as the commander of the 2nd raiders

Initially used on Tulagi and Florida Islands to protect U.S. supply lines
Used unconventional and asymmetrical warfare

Japanese totaled 2,500 U.S kills
under Toshinari Shoji, while the
Raiders only totaled 700 Japanese Kills
under Carlson

Killed 488 Japanese while only taking 35 casualties: 19 wounded 16 killed.
They captured and destroyed a large quantity of equipment including two Howitzers.
Full transcript